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Uncomplicated Mexican dishes rate among world’s best

Food can be a divisive topic.  What is heaven for one person is often a pet hate for another.

What most expats who settle here largely seem to agree on is that Mexican food is generally pretty tasty.

In published lists, Mexico’s mostly uncomplicated cuisine regularly features among the best in the world, almost always appearing in the top five to ten spots.

A recent ranking of the 100 Best Dishes in the World published by TasteAtlas* confirms this, with several simple Mexican dishes recognized.

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19th place: Tacos de carnitas, usually consisting of roasted barriga (porkbelly), maciza (lean meat ), buche (tripe) or nana (pork uterus), served on a corn tortilla with salsa and onions.

22nd place: Cochinita pibil, originally from the Yucatan, is a delicious pork dish, marinated in annatto (achiote) paste and bitter orange juice, encapsulating the essence of Mexican cuisine with its rich combination of flavors and colors.

30th place: Chilaquiles, the quintessential breakfast plate, consisting of nothing more than fried tortilla pieces immersed in chili sauce, and scattered with cheese, cream and onions.

36th place: Carnitas, originally from Michoacán, consists of pork cooked slowly until crisp-tender. It’s a fine example of this country’s ability to transform humble ingredients into a mouthwatering dish.

40th place: Taco Gobernador, a specialty from Sinaloa made with shrimp and cheese that is essentially a cross between a taco and a quesadilla.  It was supposedly created by the chef of a well-known restaurant specifically for the state governor.

42nd place: Tacos al Pastor, originating in Puebla and Mexico City, are delicious spit-grilled slices of pork. The method of preparing and cooking al pastor is based on the lamb doner brought to Mexico by Lebanese immigrants.

49th place: Gringas, consisting of a hot corn tortilla in which portions of meat (usually pastor) are placed with Manchego and Oaxaca cheeses, covered with another tortilla, heated on a comal and served when the cheese has melted.

84th place: Guacamole. The world-renowned combination of mashed avocados, tomatoes, onions, cilantro and a splash of lime juice has its origins as far back as the Aztec empire, food historians say.  

These kinds of lists, of course, will often be controversial, since they omit many people’s favorites.  For balance,  here are some other popular Mexican dishes that could easily have made the top 100.

Enchiladas: Corn tortillas filled with meat, cheese, and/or beans, rolled up, and covered in a flavorful sauce, then baked until bubbly.

Tamales: Corn masa filled with various fillings like pork, chicken, or cheese, wrapped in corn husks, and steamed until cooked through.

Pozole: A hearty soup made with hominy (dried maize kernels), meat (typically pork), and flavored with chili peppers and other seasonings.

Chiles Rellenos: Roasted poblano peppers stuffed with cheese, meat, or beans, dipped in egg batter, fried, and topped with sauce.

Mole: A rich, complex sauce made with chili peppers, chocolate, nuts, and spices, often served over chicken or enchiladas.

* TasteAtlas is an experiential travel online guide for traditional food that collates authentic recipes, food critic reviews, and research articles about popular ingredients and dishes. To fulfill its mission of preserving traditional recipes and promoting authentic restaurants and source ingredients, a small team of 30 authors does rigorous research.

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